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UK Government Withdraws Sexist And Stereotypical Coronavirus “Stay Home” Campaign After Backlash

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I come from a very liberal family. My parents taught me equality-based values and always encouraged me to pursue my career. However, that’s not how it works in most households. Women my age are married off, forced to slog away doing household chores and pressured to have children while men can’t be bothered less about all this. This is what traditional gender-roles dictate and it’s not just in our country. The UK government recently had to withdraw a coronavirus ‘stay home’ campaign because of its sexist nature. Can’t we just move past these regressive gender-roles?

You see, the UK government just withdrew a public information campaign that urged people to “stay home” during the coronavirus pandemic. This withdrawal only came after severe backlash and criticism about its stereotypical depiction of women doing household chores and looking after children.

This advert is part of the government’s advertising campaign to encourage people in England to comply with the pandemic protocols. A government spokesperson tried to do some damage control by saying that the campaign was withdrawn because “it does not reflect the government’s view on women.”

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The stereotypical and sexist advertisement showed an illustration of four houses. While, the first shows a man sitting on a couch with a woman and a child, the remaining three depict women ironing, looking after children, and mopping the floor. Wow. So very convenient for the men, na? Their time in lockdown is marked by them sitting on the couch and not lifting a finger while the women run around taking care of all the housework and the children. It’s truly a win-win situation for the men.

This campaign advertisement was originally posted on the UK government’s Facebook page but it has since been deleted. It took them severe criticism and backlash to understand that their tone-deaf campaign promotes outdated gender stereotypes. Despite so much conversation about sexism and regressive gender roles, how does an entire country’s government not see just how problematic the campaign is? Moreover, haven’t we seen enough instances of men also doing chores during the lockdown?

Dr Pragya Agarwal, a behavioural and data scientist took to Twitter to call out this campaign. She said that the advertisement reinforced, “the view that it is a woman’s job to homeschool, clean, do the childcare. Are the men out there fighting a war or something?”

This debacle by the UK government just proves that there is a pressing need to break through these gender stereotypes that aren’t doing anyone any good.

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